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Gunning for a Firearm at an Auction

Gunning for a Firearm at an Auction

Gun Safety.  Gun Sales.

Gun Regulations. Gun Ownership.

Gun Possession.  Gun Whatever.

Yeah, guns are in the news. Especially after a mass shooting. As of the time of this writing, it’s been less than three weeks since the tragic Texan church shooting in a small town where no one expected anything like this to happen. And that means people have hard-core beliefs swaying wildly to one side or the other of the gun spectrum. I’m not going into that, because this is an auction blog, not a political soapbox. I’ll leave that up to you.

Often times, especially up here in the Northwoods, one might go to a live auction where rifles or pistols are being auctioned off. It’s actually fairly normal to go to a farm auction and have people asking us if there are any guns up for auction, even though typically hunting rifles are handed down from one generation to another ’round our neck of the woods.  So what DO you need to know if you want to be able to purchase a gun at an auction?

When you come to a live auction at which guns are being auctioned and check in, you may be asked if you will be bidding on any of the guns, especially if the person handling the check-in station notices that you are from out of state.  More about that later.

If you are from in-state (yes, you must live in the state that the auction is being held in), you don’t have too much to worry about as long as you are at least 18 years old for long guns (like rifles and shotguns) or age 21 for short guns (like pistols and revolvers).  Here are a few of the most common things an auctioneer is looking at when selling a gun to somebody at an auction. Please note that each state is different in its gun ownership laws. This is just a general list. Please check with your own state about their laws and requirements.

In general, in order to purchase/possess a gun as an in-state resident,

  • You must not be a convicted felon, currently under indictment, or found not-guilty of a crime by way of mental insanity. Because really, who wants criminals out on the streets with guns (that’s about as political as I’m going to get).
  • If you’ve been committed to a mental institution and have been ordered by the court to not be allowed gun ownership, well, that would be pretty just cause for the auctioneer to not sell you a gun.  Besides being the law, it just makes sense.
  • You must not be an illegal alien. You know who I’m talking about.  And I don’t mean the kind from Mars, either…although if you were, you’d probably own your own extra-terrestrial
  • ray-gun which would be far superior to our simple .22’s, so what would be the point of trying to buy one of ours.
  • You have a domestic violence, child abuse, or tribal restraint order held against you. Yeah, not cool.
  • You have proper identification that proves your age, your address, photo identity, and provide your telephone number and anything else the auctioneer might require. Very cool to have with you. And necessary.

If you are from out-of-state, in addition to the above (and whatever your state laws are), you need to possess an FFL. In simplest words, an FFL (Federal Firearms Licence) is a US license that gives an individual or a company the ability to engage in a business of buying/selling firearms including between states. There’s more to an FFL, but that’s the basic gist of it. All you need to know is that if you live in Minnesota and want to purchase a rifle in Wisconsin, you better have an FFL, or the auctioneer will deny you the right to bid on and purchase a firearm.

Once you have won the gun, you will likely have to fill out a form to prove you have the right according to the state to purchase the firearm (like you have not been convicted of a felon). Once you pay for and take possession of your firearm, make sure to secure it safely and legally.



There you have it. That’s about it.

 Gun purchasing at an auction in a nutshell.

Or should that be a shotgun shell?

Happy auctioning!


Reserve, Absolute, Minimum? What’s that?

Reserve, Absolute, Minimum? What’s that?

Hey! I’m back! Hopefully you’ve gotten over being confused about the main types of auctions, because now I’ve got a few more auction types for you.  Today, we’ll discuss reserve auctions, absolute auctions, and minimum bid auctions. Ready?  Good!

Reserve Auction:  Have you ever had a reservation over something you had to decide? Or booked a reservation at a hotel?  Perhaps reserved a place for your friend next to you in the lunch room?  Well, then you have a sense of what a reserve auction is. When something is reserved, it is held in place until certain conditions are met.

At a reserve auction, the item up for bid has a reserve price: a hidden price that must be met before the item is allowed to be sold. It’s the minimum amount that a seller is willing to accept for his item that’s up for auction.  The seller is under no obligation to sell unless the reserve has been met.  When bidding on-line, you will see an obvious icon showing either “Reserve not yet met” or “Reserve met”.  Just like any online auction, you should probably place your maximum bid, otherwise, you risk being outbid by another bidder. If your maximum bid exceeds the reserve (which you don’t know), the program will find the bid increment closest to the reserve price and bid that for you. Confused yet? I’m sure that was clear as mud. SO…let’s look at it this way.

Bob goes to Hueckman Auction’s website and sees a trilobite (that’s Wisconsin’s state fossil!) that he would like to add to his collection.  He sees that he has almost 1 day left to bid, that the next bid increment is $10. Bob also sees the words “Reserve Not Met” in bold blueprint next to the bidding box.

Bob doesn’t know that Luanne is selling the trilobite and that she has decided that she needs to get at least $10 for this specimen and so has set a reserve price of $10. If the bidding doesn’t reach this amount, she doesn’t want to sell the trilobite and is under no obligation to sell it.

Bob decides that he really likes the trilobite and wants it, no matter what. (What? That could happen…). So he places a maximum bid of $100 on the trilobite.  Remember, this doesn’t mean that Bob will HAVE to pay that much, just that he’s willing to pay that much.  The computer sees that Bob has a maximum bid higher than the reserve, so it will make Bob bid $10 (or slightly more depending on the program–some go to the next higher bid increment). Then the words “Reserve not met” change to “reserve met”. At that point, Luanne HAS to sell it to Bob, unless he gets outbid by some other adventure seeing-trilobite hunter.  Which could also happen…maybe…

Absolute Auction: I’m absolutely positive that you want to hear about this one.  (Hee hee.) At an absolute auction, the item is sold,  or awarded to the highest bidder, regardless of the final price. While this sounds absolutely obvious, not all auctions run this way. But an absolute auction does. Absolutely. (Ok…I’m absolutely running away with that word…mostly because it’s fun to say.  Try it: Ab-so-LUTE-ly. See it’s fun to say. I digress…)  In this type of auction, there is no reserve; there is no minimum bid amount that must be reached in order to sell an item. This usually creates a happy & healthy selling/buying medium (the seller is happy with what he gets for his item, and the buyer is  happy with the price he pays).  But this means that you might be able to buy a $140,000 house for only $55,000 because there was no reserve price set. Wasn’t that a great deal? Absolutely! (I couldn’t resist saying it one more time!)

Minimum Bid Auctions:  In a minimum bid auction, the auctioneer will set a minimum amount that must be bid in order for the item to be sold at auction.  For instance, an auctioneer might insist that he will not take a bid lower than $5 for a box of toy trains. That’s the minimum bid. He won’t take a bid of $1, like some folk like to do.  If he can’t get someone to start the bidding at $5, he’ll set the trains aside and move on to the next item.

Did this help you?  I absolutely hope that you hold no reservations, no matter how minimal, about types of auctions.  (Clever, eh?) If you do have questions, send us a note and we’ll try to answer them the best we can.

Happy Auctioning!